Doctors and scientists alike are baffled at the recent spike in hair loss of University of Calgary students. The praecalvustis epidemic reportedly silently hit the campus in late October, but according to doctors, the disease does not flare up for several weeks.
“Many students could be carriers without knowing it,” said Dr. Frank Bateman, a physician at a walk-in clinic near campus. “The bacteria build up for a few weeks to a month in the cranial system. Once a flare up occurs, there’s no stopping it.”
Bateman explained that a common first symptom is sharp headaches located in the “frontal lobe.”
“Most people experience pain that they usually assume is a stress headache, but it’s actually the bacteria infiltrating the brain’s defences.”
Just before breaking out, patients reported a tingling sensation above their foreheads. First-year business student Marcie Glaber was the first U of C student to be diagnosed with praecalvustis disease, now also known as “Glaber disease.”
“The doctors are calling me this century’s Typhoid Mary,” Glaber explained behind her government issued quarantine bubble-dome.
“How was I supposed to know headaches and hair loss came from bacteria? I thought I was just stressed out! I had a finance midterm that week!”
U of C biology professor Brad Scott acknowledged how difficult it is to determine when someone is experiencing symptoms of a new disease. “When you’ve never been exposed, oh, sorry, bad choice of words,” he said, shying away from quarantined balding students.
“When there’s no medical research or documentation on a new kind of bacteria, it’s very difficult to determine the symptoms associated with that bacteria.”
“Glaber disease took us all by surprise,” added Scott. “At least the semester’s almost over and the diagnosed students won’t have to be quarantined anymore.”
Quarantine stations are located throughout campus, including in MacHall and Math Sciences. Authorities considered quarantining all of the U of C, as Glaber disease appeared to be only affecting the 18- to 24-year-old demographic in the area.
“The students that we’ve diagnosed with Glaber disease all seem to be younger,” said Dr. Daniel Furter, a doctor volunteering his time from the Peter Lougheed Centre to research the disease. Furter was not sure why younger students were being targeted by Glaber disease.
“It could be a question of what the Glaber bacteria prefer, or could be related to immune systems, but also could be related to how Glaber is spread from person to person,” he said.
Doctors and scientists are attempting to pinpoint how Glaber is spread, but the facts are still hazy.
“The bacteria seem to like strong caffeinated drinks, like coffee or tea, and also appear to thrive well in dry areas. This leads us to believe libraries and study rooms are the culprits,” said Furter.
He explained that all the diagnosed students had been studying for midterms when exposed to Glaber disease.
“Older students may feel more confident about their studies and are generally less stressed,” Furter said. “Those students would not feel the pressure to spend over 12 hours in a library.”
“I’m a doctor, not a sociologist, but I’d bet that some of these diagnosed students are even in the same study group.”
Second-year English student Mark Berg was diagnosed earlier this month and admitted to working with Marcie Glaber in a GRST 209 study group.
“I took it as a fun elective,” Berg said. “I never imagined that interacting with other majors could lead to being quarantined.”
Students diagnosed with Glaber disease are being kept quarantined in bubble-domes. The students are free to roam around, and both food and water are provided.
If you or someone you know is complaining of headaches or tingling sensations near their forehead, both Furter and Bateman encourage quarantine.
“We’re taking no chances here,” said Furter. “The last thing we need is the U of C represented by baldees.”